Students booked for rioting after they stuck posters in support of Palestine at a Starbucks coffee outlet on January 4 in Kozhikode have accused the Kerala police of terrorising their movement. “Kerala police are trying to terrorise our movement by falsely attributing an intent to cause a riot,” said Waseem Mansur, unit president of Fraternity Movement at Farook College, Kozhikode. He along with five others were arrested by the Kozhikode Town police on January 7, Sunday.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), the students activists, Waseem, Hathim Yasar, Fathima Meharin, Rafa Mariyam, Ameena Firose, and Nadhwa Rahman were booked under IPC sections 448 (Punishment for house trespass), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 427 (committing mischief and cause loss or damage to an amount equivalent to fifty rupees) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention
“We are clueless about IPC Section 153, intent to cause a riot. The whole boycott campaign was conducted peacefully and there was no provocation from our side. By slapping this section, it is evident that the police as well as the government fear these movements,” Waseem added.
Kozhikode Town Police Station House Officer refused to answer the question why charges of rioting were included. The protesters said that the police seized their vehicle and have not yet given any proper explanation for that.
The protest was organised on January 4, as part of Free Palestine Week, an awareness campaign by the Fraternity Movement unit of Farook College. As part of the campaign, they started a boycott campaign against the brands that supported Israel in the genocide against Palestine. As part of their boycott campaign, they went to Starbucks around 3.30 pm and stuck posters.
According to the FIR, the sentences written on the stickers were, ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Caution: Content May Fund Genocide’.
“It is not right for us to remain silent when the genocide is happening against Palestine. That’s why we started a campaign against brands that support the genocide. Our campaign is intended to raise awareness among the students about which brand to boycott,” stated Fathima Meharin, unit secretary of the Fraternity Movement at Farook College.
“Our intention was to capture video and photos of the boycott action with placards in the background of Starbucks. We planned to put these visuals on social media to create awareness. The employees of Starbucks came and destroyed them as soon as the posters were affixed. Then a discussion took place, but it remained non-provocative,” said Waseem.
The Fraternity Movement did a similar campaign in front of McDonald's and are planning to replicate it for other brands. The Fraternity Movement took out a march to the Starbucks outlet on Sunday to protest the case against students . “If the call to boycott is equivalent to the call to riot, we have decided to make our sounds louder,” said Shaheen Ahmed, district secretariat member of Fraternity Movement.
Recent reports said Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation lost nearly 11 billion dollars in value due to global political tensions and calls for boycott over its alleged support to Israel's war on Gaza. In October 2023, Starbucks sued their barista worker's union for a social media post expressing solidarity with Palestine.
Since 2005, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement has been targeting brands and companies which they consider have links to Israel and are supportive of war against Palestine. Global brands like Pizza Hut, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza and Puma are facing boycotts from pro-Palestinian groups.